If you are an expat parent who is about to take up a new position in the Far East or somewhere equally exotic, your child’s schooling is a priority, and with that in mind, here is a checklist to ensure that the international school you choose allows your children to continue with their education unhindered.
- Reasonably Close to Home – No child should spend more than 30 minutes in a car to get to school, and while location should not be your main priority, it does have a bearing on your selection.
- K-12 School – You might be posted to your new destination for a long time, and if you like it, you can apply to extend your stay, and if you do that, sending your children to a K-12 school means they never have to change schools.
- Child Centered Methodology – Studies clearly show that children learn best with a hands-on approach, and learning by doing is usually expressed in the form of project-based learning. This approach would be most evident in the last 6 years of formal education, when students are grouped to problem solve and analyse real life issues that they will encounter.
- Native Teachers – If your child will be studying the US curriculum, it makes perfect sense to use a school that employs Native American teachers, who are recruited at home and given 2-3 year contracts. One of the top international schools in Bangkok delivers the US curriculum and only employs professional teachers from the US.
- High Academic Standards – The ideal school is one that has a very impressive record regarding SAT tests and students that go on to the university of their choosing. Exam results and average GPA scores are great benchmarks for parents who are looking for a top achieving school, so check these.
- Affordability – Just because a school has everything a parent would expect, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive, and while fees should never be the main priority, something in the middle would be most suitable.
- Adequate Resources – The school would need to have a swimming pool, all of the top sports amenities one would expect to find at an international school, plus they should have the technology to ensure that the students make best use of digital devices, using the Internet as a major learning resource.
- Parental Involvement – The key ingredient to any inclusive school is parental participation, which should be evident from the very outset. Parents should be invited to attend workshops that are designed to help them better understand how learning takes place, plus parents would be invited to give talks about their profession to the older students, which would give them a real-life account of what working in that field involves.
One of the other important aspects of looking at suitable schools for your children is talking to the existing parents and asking how they feel about the school. In the event there are minor issues, these will be revealed by discussing the school with some of the parents, which gives you a heads-up of what to expect as a parent.